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Episode Description

On this episode of The Digital Shop Talk Radio, Levon Arnold of Long Arm Mechanics in Idaho has a great success story to share how he unleashed the full power of the digital shop to attract new customers!

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Episode Transcript

*This transcript was generated using Artificial Intelligence. Errors may occur. If you notice an error, please contact [email protected].

Tom Dorsey (00:00:05):
Good morning and good afternoon. Welcome to this week’s edition of The Digital Shop Talk Radio. I’m Tom Dorsey, and today I’ve got Levon Arnold with me from Long arm Mechanics in Garden City, Idaho, and we’re going to be talking about unleashing the full power of the digital shop and in a big way and in a big surprising way. Also because not to steal this guy’s thunder, but his entire staff is out with Covid and has been since last week. And so he’s been a one man army and maintaining his numbers, maintaining his best practice, KPI, numbers, no excuses. And of course, welcome Levon Arnold, I appreciate you coming on, buddy. It’s going to be a great show.
Levon Arnold (00:00:49):
I’m really excited to be here. Excited. Always look forward to listening to the podcast, so I’m looking forward to going through some things with you.
Tom Dorsey (00:00:57):
Yeah, thank you and couldn’t be more happy to have you on. And of course, as always, Uwe Kleinschmidt, our founder and CIO. Welcome Uwe.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:01:08):
I’m so excited to be here. I am really looking forward what Levon is going to share with us.
Tom Dorsey (00:01:16):
Yeah, yeah, and we didn’t plan this. It’s not like I went and sprinkled some covid dust around so we could have a show where a guy is holding it down by himself and it hasn’t been devastating, and I’m not going to put any words in Levon’s mouth. Levon, if you could just kind of give us a background on what happened, where you’ve been and how are you managing to hang in there buddy.
Levon Arnold (00:01:43):
I think it was almost two weeks ago that my lead technician, he started feeling sick. We sent him home and we got tests for everybody and all three of my technicians and my entire front office staff tested positive myself, my marketing gal, Ayano and my detail manager. We also were in a detailing shop out of the second building on the property. We all tested negative. Thankfully we’re able to keep the boat afloat and I think that the biggest thing that’s allowed us to get through and with only a small hit on our numbers is really falling back on the processes and procedures that we have in place. Working through every single workflow step and communicating with customers. That’s just been pretty understanding, rescheduling and accommodating for longer delay times. But the extra hours that I’ve had to put in and falling back on the process is second nature, boom, boom, boom, boom, has just allowed us to really pull through this. I’m fortunate that I wasn’t positive, but I’m fortunate that I have that second nature over the last few years of running the digital shop that I’ve been able to fall back on it and not have to work through everything critically and just second nature it.
Tom Dorsey (00:03:17):
Yeah, and that’s got to be because that’s what we hammer this process about. That’s what the DSOP is all about. You got to have a plan in place. You got to build that muscle memory because guess what? When this kind of stuff happens, boom, you just hit that turbo button and it just becomes natural and you can keep your best practices. You don’t have to cut the corners. You got any insights on, I mean, how incredible is this?
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:03:47):
I’m blown away, but I would love to hear a few details if you don’t mind. What have you learned in the last week? I mean, where did you pat yourself on the back and say, wow, that was good that we had that in place, and what else did you learn which might make you change stuff around?
Levon Arnold (00:04:10):
I think one of the biggest things has been making sure that I’m taking care of myself. I’m coming in and not burning myself out, but I’ve learned that once somebody, me in this case has really reached that level of mastery of knowing what needs to happen on every single workflow step and what needs to wait until the next one or needs to be there to answer the customer’s questions before they ask them, which I think is the biggest benefit with the digital process. We can get those things. So being able to fall back on those things, the biggest thing that I’ve learned is working through those workflow steps and getting those answers there ahead of time. It cuts my time in half, more than in half running the front office by myself and has allowed me to step back into the shop, which traditionally I don’t spend my time in the shop. I have three technicians out here and I steer the ship basically. So being able to reach that level of mastery has been the biggest thing, but seeing what that can achieve, I think this week has really, really set a cornerstone of how we work through this and where we need to work towards getting all of my team up to speed and on that level, same level of mastery so they can run with me basically.
Tom Dorsey (00:05:42):
So would you recommend for the audience that they send everybody home for a week so that they can work through their processes and make them bulletproof?
Levon Arnold (00:05:53):
It’s definitely been an immersive process, and I won’t say do that willingly, but it has helped. It has, it has allowed me to really embrace and understand how effective all of this implementation can be.
Tom Dorsey (00:06:12):
Yeah, and I was just kind of half joking when I’m saying send your staff home. That’s what the audit is all about, folks, is that when you work that audit process, especially when you make it a regular part of your management, it doesn’t have to be every day, but quarterly, monthly, whenever it is, and you’re going to audit and you’re going to go through, you’re going to put yourself in those shoes and you’re going to do the stuff, you’re going to push the buttons, you’re going to move that ARO forward, you’re going to make the phone call, whatever it is, and you have to be the devil’s advocate on your process because that’s how you find the holes. And then when you get into a situation like Levon, unfortunately found himself in, guess what? You’re victorious. You succeed because you’ve trial by fire. You’ve worked out all those kinks and you can trust it, and if you can trust it, you can just crank the throttle and pour it on.
Levon Arnold (00:07:05):
Yeah, yeah, that’s a great point. Being able to fall back on it, being able to rely on it. I hope nobody else has to find out the way that I’ve found out, but once you’re in that position, that’s when the rubber hits the road. I guess
Tom Dorsey (00:07:22):
Bill Connor’s asking Levon, is this a plan that you had in place in case something like this happened and training hit by the bus plan is what he pretty much called it?
Levon Arnold (00:07:36):
I think the biggest challenge has been getting something documented and this is how we’ll handle this, this and this. With the Covid pandemic, that’s been impossible because we’ve had week by week changes, so we’ve had a very general outline on what happens in a worst case scenario like this. And luckily if it was anybody else, I don’t know if they’ve been able to work through it as sufficiently as me, but I know that most of my team would be able to work through it at least, at least be able to weather the storm.
Tom Dorsey (00:08:15):
And the other upside I see to it really is that it takes a lot of excuses out. If you’re able to maintain, I mean I was looking at your metrics, your motorist research time is actually trending up. You’re actually beating the techs and the writers in some metric areas, and so that kind of really says, Hey, you know what? I didn’t have anybody else helping me and I was able to get those inspections audited or edited. I was able to get ’em out the door. I was able to let the process work and keep the sales rate up, which are excuse, and it really kind of shuts the door on any of that. And I think it would help you really if you had anybody who, and for folks in the audience, if you have anybody who’s not a hundred percent on board, I mean that’s a real strong position to get somebody to reconsider if they’re dragging their feet, right?
Levon Arnold (00:09:03):
Yeah, I think that’s a great point. You either want to rely upon the excuses that present themselves or want to be bigger than the circumstances, and I think that that’s the mentality that we try and cultivate, or at least I try and lead with. Most of my team is pretty, two of my technicians and my front office staff are pretty new, so we’re still going through that mastery process, but I think that they’re picking up that we make the choice to be bigger than the circumstances mentality. We’ll see what they say when they come back and how strong our numbers are. I think that’ll be a good motivation
Tom Dorsey (00:09:45):
Though. I mean it’s great you set the bar right, it’d amazing. Yeah,
Levon Arnold (00:09:47):
Set the bar,
Tom Dorsey (00:09:48):
Especially if you keep ahead of ’em for a period and they have to chase you. I mean you kind of cement your leadership as well right there. Not that you haven’t, but for other folks that are out there and are, because we get it all the time, my techs, they really don’t want to do this and gee, and it’s like, who’s running the asylum over there and something like this. I got to tell you, Levon has given a lot of, I think faith and we’re prideful people and it is like, Hey man, if this guy can do, what’s my excuse? I better get out of bed and type my boots.
Levon Arnold (00:10:21):
A little friendly competition amongst everybody is always okay, I think. But leading by example is more important implementing this process than anything. Everybody has to be on board, say what you want about the trickle down theory, but it’s a trickle down economic theory, but what really trickles down is the culture from the top and if we can lead by example, then the team will get on board. We will be able to overcome those obstacles and get the numbers where we need ’em to be and stuff like that.
Tom Dorsey (00:10:55):
Yeah, I mean it’s unfortunate that you have to go about it this way. You don’t control the die that was cast, but man, what a great response and just congratulations. First of all, I’m already thinking about bringing you back a couple months down the road when you get back to full crew and they just do some comparative analysis and see how this experience, how you’ve grown out of it. A lot of folks have done that. We saw them April and it was so devastating. And then you can really see the ones who committed just, what do they call that? V-shape recovery is like a rocket ship recovery and a lot of folks that ended up the season, the summer ahead of where they were significantly last year. And that’s a testament to really having a plan, working the plan and just not giving up, just doing it swing for
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:11:52):
The fences.
Levon Arnold (00:11:54):
Yeah, just go for it. There’s a lot of fortitude that’s involved with it, but shop owners know plenty about that. It’s just applying it to different processes.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:12:07):
Levon, would you mind telling us a little bit about you and your shop? How big is it? How did you become a shop owner
Levon Arnold (00:12:21):
In a couple of days? We’re going to be reaching our five year anniversary in this shop. We’ve been in business for about nine years, but commercially five years. I got into the commercial space and everything like that. And uniquely, I’ve always wanted to be a shop owner, eight years old. I was talking about it and been planning for it. I love what I do. I love working with people. I think that’s one of our biggest advantages in new customer acquisition. That’s where I take the lead really is really how I work with people. But the digital stuff has, we had so many manual processes in place before we jumped on board with AutoVitals that I looked back at it and I’m just like, oh my gosh, no wonder it was so cumbersome and hard to get everybody to follow it. There was a million more steps than we have, and it’s really allowed me to really create the shop that I want trying to lead the industry in the changes that are coming.
I can’t see successful shops running without managing workflow steps as scientifically as we can now. And all of it has allowed me to really do a lot of work with my community. That’s what I like to do as a business owners. Get out and see who I can help and how I can help outside of the shop for others benefits primarily. And how that helps with the shop is the secondary mentality I guess that I have when I’m out there. But the digital shop, being able to look at every car that’s in the shop, knowing where every workflow step is from my tablet when I’m out in a meeting up the street and being able to have my service advisor send me an estimate before we send it to the customer, make sure all these little things are buttoned up while I’m getting them up to speed and stuff like that.
Has the lifestyle it’s been able to create for me has, I’d say it was probably five years earlier than I expected to be in some of the positions that I’m in. So I think I just have a lot of enthusiasm. I like solving challenges more than anything, overcoming obstacles and stuff like that. So I’m pretty happy with where we’ve gone coming into our five year anniversary, we’re hitting a really good milestone. Our are on a great trajectory and we’re building a really good team. So I think that I’m happy with the progress that we’ve made and I think that the last week, week and a half has, like you said, Tom, reinforcing and cementing in our position, our processes, our procedures, and how well they deliver our customer experience has been tremendous. I can’t be happier with where we’re at that way.
Tom Dorsey (00:15:25):
That’s fantastic. Google, I bet you never thought you’d built a time machine.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:15:30):
Levon Arnold (00:15:30):
No, it’s
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:15:31):
Super rewarding to hear that,
Tom Dorsey (00:15:34):
Seeing that smile on your face, buddy.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:15:36):
And so is there a second location
Levon Arnold (00:15:39):
In the making? We’ve been working on getting our numbers up so we can get commercial real estate. Man, it’s expensive right now and in my area, Garden City has been going through a lot of gentrification process, commercial real estate’s, been through the roof. I miss an opportunity, I won’t name names on why I missed that opportunity, but to buy the building that I’m in. But I found that this last year, our capacity at this shop, we have a four lift shop, we have two detail bays. We really max out in the busy season and we miss a lot of calls and customers being able to get ’em in because our lead time was so far out this last season that I think a bigger shop to start and then maybe a second shop after that is what I’m buying him. So that’s exciting.
Tom Dorsey (00:16:39):
I don’t know if you saw, we did the episode with Mike Button. I’ve had him on a few times. He’s up in Chico and he’s doing that same type of concept where he basically just put together a production facility. It’s not really a retail location, it’s a tilt up. It’s just out of the way, whatever location doesn’t matter. And he’s just moving vehicles back and forth from his other locations over there for production. So for folks that are hurting for space or looking for ideas like that, check out that episode. Off the top of my head, I don’t remember what episode number, but it was with Mike Button. It was a great show. Solving problems. That’s what we do.
Levon Arnold (00:17:18):
Yeah, I like that concept too. Being able to have one production facility and ramping up and ramping down and being able to funnel into that. I think that’s going to be huge for maintaining solid employees, which we all know is a really big challenge with the technician shortage and maintaining consistent workflow. You can ramp up and add a split shift if you wanted to. If that production facility is really maxing out, you want it to be, there’s so many possibilities that way.
Tom Dorsey (00:17:49):
Exactly. And if you’ve got several retail facilities, then you’re able to actually shuffle people around. You’re short staffed over here today. Well, boom. There you go. So you got that deep bench. Also, it’s funny, I mean we’re taking it to the next level saying you could have your front counter, could be in a mall, you could be in a mall and you just drop the keys and boom, I’m just going to flatbed it over to and drop it back off or whatever it is. There’s so many options that way. It really kind of takes the restrictions out. And we’ve had other episodes we’re talking about from a recruiting perspective and the ability for inside of a digital shop, you’re almost not even bound by demographics or geography, even in the employee level. You got a service advisor working virtually.
So is yeah, I mean, this is really why I wanted to get you on and just have this discussion and if anybody wants to participate, chat in your questions, chat in your comments if they’re vulgar and negative bill’s been doing here towards me, keep that stuff to yourself really highly unnecessary. But no, seriously, get ’em in here and we’ll talk it out. Uwe. So I know we were talking before the show because Levon with you, you’re kind of going through you. Wintertime is seasonal for you, I would imagine. And so you’re probably ramping up for winter right now or you’re concerned about it, you got to get the crew back in first through what you’re saying, the gentrification, you’re really in a kind of a hip area. I was checking it out, garden City, it looks really cool and I’m looking at your webpage and it’s looking like you prefer working on Euros. Is that just because that’s the folks that are around you or you prefer working on Euros?
Levon Arnold (00:19:53):
Well, I like the demographics. I like the demographics. Generally what I see with people with European manufacturers, they want to keep the car going. And my biggest thing is, my biggest target demographic is customers that want to keep their car in good shape. That’s why we started the detailing shop. Customers that polish their vehicles up are either really want to keep their resale value and keep their car in great shape, or there’s the other half of ’em that want to polish ’em up and don’t want to fix the coolant leak. But that’s okay too. I’m I’m not going to argue with them either. And
Tom Dorsey (00:20:32):
If the bills,
Levon Arnold (00:20:34):
Yeah, exactly, exactly. But my biggest focus and the type of shop that the experience I want to offer is we are your partners in making sure your car in as good of shape as you are willing to keep it in. There’s nothing that we can’t do here to maintain the car in brand new condition almost. And that really just comes down to having the conversation on what are your expectations for your vehicle and how long do you want to keep it and let’s make sure it’s going safely and reliably and looking nice for as long as we can. So that’s who we want to be. So
Tom Dorsey (00:21:17):
That is such a critical first question or discovery, especially when you’re meeting a new customer or somebody comes, Hey, I just got this car, whether it’s used or new, what’s your plan with it? How long? And that’s where it really, I think the digital inspection becomes so critical to that conversation is because now you have that full transparency. So if your goal is five years or whatever or lifetime, hey, there’s nothing better that’s going to keep you informed on the success of that and the value that you provide them to meet that goal.
Levon Arnold (00:21:52):
Yeah, that’s a hundred percent it. Once we send them that digital vehicle inspection, they have such a clear idea on where they’re at with everything. We always go through, Hey, if you have service records, I’ll put a note in there so we know and we’re not overselling, but you will be able to know where you’re at if you go somewhere else, which a lot of customers do. We’re not the cheapest shop in Garden City, nor do I want to be, but they go somewhere else and they don’t feel the value in the experience and the partnership that they do when they’re here. You can’t run through the old paper carbon copy process and compare it to a digital vehicle inspection. On average, we’re over 50 pictures per inspection last time I checked. You can’t compare those two things on the same scale. It’s a completely different ballpark and it’s nice. After five years, we’re really getting the recognition in the word of mouth that that’s the type of shop that we are and it can’t be argued through the pictures and the transparency and the honesty that is just inherent with it. It’s just an amazing thing.
I know that we have never
In five years have we put any serious money into advertising. I’d say we were less than a thousand dollars a year in the five years that I’ve been in this shop. And that’s really solely focusing on the customer experience going through it and first and foremost, making sure how they’re seeing us and experiencing us through those inspections. And those questions that they’re going to ask that we’re going to answer before they ask has been that driver in word of mouth and clarity and education and I don’t know if there’s any other way to do it.
Tom Dorsey (00:23:56):
Yeah, that’s brilliant. Right away that pops in my head is ATI super conference, the swimming pool sales guy. We had this one year out there, we had this keynote speaker and it was amazing. What does he say? He says, I put up this website, there’s all kinds of swimming pool builders that are competing against me. I start giving my opinion instead of hiding from the competition, I start telling you about the competition. And in some cases, and that’s where he was kind of blogging through there and in some cases he’s saying, Hey, you know what? This guy, probably is a better deal for you for whatever reason, boy, he said it was opening the floodgates, the authority, the respect, the online credibility, just put him at a completely different level after that and then it was just do more of it. And so that’s really what I want to, because I see a lot of that in how you look at your strategy for new customer acquisition online, like your open doors, you’ve got the pit bull sitting there kind of thing. If he’s a pit or not or whatever, he’s
Levon Arnold (00:25:12):
Part pit. Yeah.
Tom Dorsey (00:25:14):
And then like I said, and then you’ve got actual metrics, how many digital inspections you’ve done, how you handle your customers, your community involvement. Really I loved it from a customer experience perspective. It drew me into who you are. The only thing I would recommend is you got some smiling faces and welcoming him in on that first picture and see you there also. But I mean that’s really nitpicking. How has it been working since you’ve kind of taken that approach and you’re putting that transparency out there? I mean, I guess the proof’s in the pudding. If you’re only spending about a grand year and any other ancillary marketing, it’s working.
Levon Arnold (00:25:59):
It all is all driven by the number of inspection pictures that we take is just pure gold content that we can put online. We’re already taking the pictures. So I brought in somebody to do the marketing. She builds the websites and we can just chip away at that. Like I said, I like solving challenges. So what little thing can we do to improve this, that or the other? But after the pandemic led up this year, it was like floodgates were open. Like you said earlier, customers wanted some kind of peace of mind and getting that through their vehicles and knowing that their vehicles are going to be safe and having that online presence to back that up. We were just primed to increase our sales month over month over month right after that this year as they have been over the years. But it was just floodgates this year. And I love being able to communicate the personalized service with the rotation of pictures and updating of numbers constantly and all of those things keeping us top of mind.
I can’t foresee me ever wanting to really put a lot of that money into advertising knowing that we’re maxing ourself out this way and that’s a great position. All we have to worry about now is making sure we’re getting the cars through the shop effectively and improving our processes and procedures as we go. So it’s been a tremendous tool, being able to collaborate the inspections and pictures and everything that we communicate there and finding ways to communicate that to our customers before they come in as well as after they come in, making sure those things are all in symmetry and everything like that.
Tom Dorsey (00:27:50):
And it’s really about keeping it fresh. So I get, because you kind of hit the nail on the head, you update those pictures, you add this additional content as things happen. And it’s not just always sales oriented. A lot of it is human interest and your story and things like that and light about how, and you said you have a person helping you with marketing, but how many hours would you say leave on typical week do you invest in either reviewing the plan, looking at the metrics or physically going up and maybe making blog posts or posting content? And also if you could talk to us a little bit about how you’re managing the socials as well.
Levon Arnold (00:28:35):
Right, so the social, we kind of have a target on how many posts we want to hit for categories in education, technical and sales and fluff posts and stuff like that. We’ll have a one hour meeting, probably more than that, probably a four hour meeting once a month maybe. And with every one of my employees, I hit them with a half an hour, half an hour, one-on-one meeting with them with Aon on my marketing gal. I probably do that twice a week, but I think that I invest a little bit more into that because marketing is somewhere that I like to spend my time as an owner.
I try not to jump into the daily stuff and let my team go through their process and develop what the confidence they need. But I think I just jumping into marketing, I like finding ways to reach out and talk to people and stuff like that. But I wouldn’t say I’d spend more than six hours probably on average four hours a week on marketing, not including my networking and stuff like that, out shop community stuff. Typically that takes a lot of my time. But going over the numbers and stuff like that, I just joined a ATI couple of weeks ago, so I’ve been spending a little bit more time going through the numbers. But I’d say I spent at least a couple hours every week just going through the AutoVitals numbers and stuff like that every week. That’s really where the juice is. Once you learn how many ways you can look at the numbers, you can learn how many ways you can improve yours.
And I like that my mom was an accountant or was a financial advisor and all of these in this whole financial world. So I was doing Excel spreadsheets when I was 16. So that stuff comes a little bit more naturally to me. I think probably stresses me out more, going over the numbers and stuff like that every week, making sure these little adjustments when we’re making incremental adjustments we’re making are there. But I don’t say that my time full-time managing the shop is more than 20 hours a week, which gives me time to do the community stuff that I like to do and then research other things that I’ll throw curve both of my team for.
Tom Dorsey (00:31:18):
Yeah, because I’m really interested in how you slice up your market. I think you’re kind of along the river it looks like, and it looks like there’s really, it looks like there’s just national parks on the other side of you, so I would imagine you’re not catching a lot of commuter traffic through there. And so I’m sure you have to take your demographic and kind of slice it up. Where’s the work centers, where’s where are all those euros living? Are they over here? But what about the college kids that maybe the folks need the digital inspection email to them and where are they at? Talk to us a little bit about how you approach that and how you slice it up and do you apply a different marketing strategy or technique to those different slices?
Levon Arnold (00:32:15):
I’d say that I do address them individually. We are, like you said, we’re in this long narrow corridor where there’s one main drag going across along the river here in Garden City, and it is a pretty busy one. It’s one of the main roads going into downtown, but where the shop’s located we’re in between, I mean like stones throw away from five zip codes. So you can’t, in the old world of advertising, being centrally located in the middle of one zip code was always the most ideal thing because you can branch out or however that worked. I don’t know. In the digital world, that is just super advantageous because I can reach out to each one of those zip codes and Garden City, your local area where you should be dominating as a shop is only 20% of my total target market or total customer segments.
Boise itself in the wider area and all of the zip codes that encompass that is probably 75% of where the rest of my customers come from. So being able, I think our main strategy is probably just making sure that we have good SEO on all of those pictures that we’re updating and the blog posts. This customer came from Eagle, we make sure and put that in there. That’s a neighboring town. This customer came from Boise over here, and we put all that information on the back end and make sure we specify all those long tail keywords that you need to have and location tags and stuff like that. I think that’s a big part of it, but you were saying something about college kids and stuff like that, and that’s been a big growing part of our target market. And I think with them, they’ll find you, they’ll go through the digital search, they’ll look at the Google reviews, and they’ll really come in and find us if we have the right presence. And we’re focusing on the foundational things of if they’re looking, they’re going to find us and hopefully they’ll find us organically with the low costs investment there. I’ll invest a lot more into the low and slow return of the organic results than I will that high value, that high dollar advertising money, it takes a little bit more time to ramp up, but once it’s there, it’s there and you can really fall back on it.
Tom Dorsey (00:34:59):
Sure. And it’s a completely different message. Hey, look, we can get this inspection results directly to your parents. We have texts to pay so we can, you don’t even to have to ask them for the money. You know what I mean? But seriously, these types of things are definitely more attractive to that subset than let’s say, oh, you’re 15 years or you’re nine years in business and you’re shop of the year from, that’s going to attract a whole other demographic of folks. And you have to find that balance and segment those, buy your zip codes. And Uwe, I got to tell you, I mean five zip codes in coming together at a point. I mean it used to be that would be a nightmare from a local SEO perspective.
What do you got? Uwe? And I know because Uwe’s got kind of loaded up for, we want to talk about some things that are changing because it’s one of those things when it comes to SEO, as soon as you think you got this tiger tamed, oh my gosh, they unleash the lions and it’s no different. There’s some Google changes coming down the road very soon, and rest assured AutoVitals is already on top of it and already has a plan on how to differentiate and serve the customers. But give us a little insight if we could. And then also I want to get into the blog discussion also because I know that’s another good one that we will probably finish the hour out on.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:36:41):
Sure. I just want to give for the audience what you guys were just talking about, a little visual. So the zip code, I hope you can see my screen.
Tom Dorsey (00:36:53):
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:36:53):
Yeah, it’s small, but we can see it. Okay, let me make it bigger then.
Tom Dorsey (00:36:57):
I see it full size.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:37:00):
Right. And so this is the home zip code in your shop is in the lower portion of it, right? Yeah. That long skinny part. Yeah, exactly. This one here. And so that’s what you are going to attract, you want to attract and yes, it used to be a challenge, but also, and so thank you Tom, for the segue I really like to do, if you guys are okay with it, is take a 10,000 foot view first in what we believe, what I believe is going on and what Google is telling us and show a few search results because as you said, it’s mostly about education and you use the term long tail keywords, which from an SEO perspective is a nightmare because there also many out there and it takes a while to get a good presence up. It’s actually a little worse even because what Google has done is to try, and that’s location specific and keyword specific to distinguish, to interpret what you want when you type in a keyword and they call that the intention.
What’s your intention when you type in a keyword like tires or any keyword? And I want to show you a few examples. So here I just typed in tires and we’re going to focus on desktop. The mobile world is a little different, and although it’s the majority of the searches, it’s just hard to show here in the podcast, you can see that the intention is I want to buy tires here. When I say tires, I’m getting fire hose with ads on the right hand side, which that’s what I want to buy. By the way, tires is the most competitive keyword and the most search keyword of all by far. Is that just
Tom Dorsey (00:39:29):
In the automotive space or is that like
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:39:32):
No, no, I’m just talking automotive. The lawyer keywords. No. So that’s the beauty. Google hiding, they don’t open their kimono about wheel numbers, but what you can do yourself very easily go to Google Trends and for example, type in, I don’t know, tires for the whole United States and then compare that with auto repair, which is known to be a super high search volume. And look at this. Oh yeah, wow. But back to the intention, there are three types of things. Google things you want to do, you want to buy stuff, you want to educate yourself or you want to know where stuff is navigate. And so they know from the search keyword what the intention is because they track where you click and then give you a different result depending on what they think you’re looking for. So in this case, it’s obviously you want to buy it.
So you see tons of ads here on the right hand side, discount tires, a website, and then places where you can buy tires, right? I mean, it’s very clear if I type in tires I want to buy, that’s what Google thinks I want to do. So that’s the reason why it’s super hard, for example, to rank for tires even in a local market. Now, I did nothing else than adding the town. If you did that on Google on the mobile phone, it might even show up without that and see the ads are gone and now it’s all about locations and now Google things. I want to look for a shop selling and doing something with tires. As you can see, it’s also interesting if you go here, there’s another element down here, see people also ask, that’s called the FAQ snippet, and it’s all about buying, whereas here it doesn’t even appear.
So let’s do the exact same thing with break fluid. Again, I want to buy ads about break fluid and down here things about education. See, it’s a little interesting. Now there’s the FAQ snippet showing up. What happens if the break fluid is low? So both intentions are being served, the need for education and the need for buying, right? And if I do break fluid near me, see how the FAQ snippet changes? The questions are different. So this is a more educational piece where here it’s very clear I want to buy and it goes into different questions. And all I did is say, near me, alignment, they even show a dictionary for people pronounce it who are not sure what an alignment is. Clearly educational alignment near me, completely different, and so on and so forth. So what’s the purpose of this showing to you guys?
The times where you can Google for yourself with keywords incognito and determine that’s how well your website ranks are over, because there’s no way that you can know what type of keywords the majority of the people rang, basically types in because you just Google for yourself what you think they’re looking for. And as you can see, the change in what Google interprets, what you type in the search result is so fundamental that it’s not a way to assess how well a website rings. And for everybody who is doing it, it’s a great exercise, it’s fun, but you cannot conclude any numbers about whether your website ranks high or low. So what is not out there, which I can use. So Google has over time giving a lot of, I mean you probably all know that there are companies who make money off of chasing Google.
I mean, that’s all they do. SEO companies, they do nothing else than chasing Google. And then some publish their findings. And so what Google has done is to help, is to build something, a scoring system, which they call the lighthouse score. That’s one aspect that doesn’t give you the entirety of the information you want, but it’s in an amazing way to start with. Here is one, the lighthouse score has four sub aspects, performance, accessibility, best practices, SEO, what does it mean? Performance is really simple. How fast does a searching user get their hands on the information? Mobile or desktop? That’s performance. And you see down here what that means in detail. We can skip that, but that shows you what Google spent a lot of time, actually, I think that was an acquisition. Lighthouse was a third party tool and Google just acquired them. Accessibility goes, this is the A stuff.
How well can anybody navigate on your website finding it? The buttons are not super close together. And if you are visually impaired, you cannot see anything. That’s the A stuff. Best practice is how to build a website. So they look at your design, your layout, and does it follow generally accepted layouts? It’s not a design, it’s more the user experience. So if I click on here, what can I expect to see and where’s the menu located and so on and so forth. It has nothing to do with the visual design. It has everything to do. There are best practice of how to build a website. And last but not least, it’s SEO, right? So Levon, if you don’t mind, can I show the lighthouse score of your website?
Levon Arnold (00:47:30):
Yeah, let’s take a look at it. I’m super curious. Now, I think I’ve come across this before, but who knows the amount of research you have to put into the digital world for this kind of stuff,
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:47:44):
Levon Arnold (00:47:46):
Is overwhelming.
Tom Dorsey (00:47:47):
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:47:48):
Can you see it?
Levon Arnold (00:47:50):
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:47:51):
It’s right down here.
Levon Arnold (00:47:54):
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:47:55):
So your biggest challenge right now is performance,
Levon Arnold (00:48:00):
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:48:01):
So that’s the ability, and again, Google starts using this as a ranking F. So if your website is loading slowly, you have not only a ranking challenge, you also have a lot of bounces of people who it just doesn’t load fast enough, right?
Levon Arnold (00:48:27):
Yeah. They’re not going to want to wait.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:48:29):
So it takes 14 seconds for the largest contentful pain. That means when it’s fully rendered, the first Contentful pain, which is the first thing you can see, is 4.6 seconds.
Levon Arnold (00:48:47):
Okay? That’s a long time actually. Yeah.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:48:49):
That is especially on mobile,
Levon Arnold (00:48:51):
Right? In this day and age
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:48:53):
At least. Yes. Right? And the SEO is 78, so that’s not bad. So 92 is just awesome, 86. There’s probably some minor things which can be done, but I think the 26 needs to be taken care of and everything else probably. And for the SEO, it just means whatever you wanted to promote on your website, there are certain elements which are missing or misleading, right?
Levon Arnold (00:49:34):
Yeah. I think that we have real heavy keywords in ours, and they cover a lot of ground. We have a page for Asian auto repair, and that covers Hondas and Toyotas and all those things. And segmenting those down is probably a target area for that
Tom Dorsey (00:49:50):
Because then you’d almost have to do each of those makes and models by all those five zips that are around you too. How do you work in all the location based stuff into the different make and model or repairs that you’re doing and also work in your detailing. So does your detail stuff have a different website that it’s like a standalone brand?
Levon Arnold (00:50:12):
We used to have a different website, but it was too cumbersome to manage both because we’re using WordPress, which is probably the biggest reason for that 26, but definitely outdated. But just getting all those little details in line has been the biggest challenge for how do you segment for each zip code and each manufacturer and each service. That’s the challenge that we face on this digital part. I’m actually pretty happy with our S-E-O source considering those challenges that we have in this industry.
Tom Dorsey (00:50:57):
And at the end of the day, what really matters is the phone’s ringing, right? And so Uwe, I mean as this content, or excuse me, as the intention based scoring becomes more and more weighted, I mean, it seems to me just looking at it from the outside is the only way to compete is I have to have representation in all of those intentions. So I mean, are you recommending or will we see in the future that we’re actually creating almost like a shopping cart or an online store for our services, not just kind?
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:51:40):
Yeah. So let’s look into the futures a little bit. Otway repair shops have a little challenge, and that’s a self-made one, if I may say so, because there is language used which is often focusing on the part which is being used to repair a problem. And so every part from an SEO perspective has immediately the intention of buying it, which you don’t want to serve. The tires example, the brake fluid example was perfect. So now we cannot just define today here. Let’s just change the language we use and educate, brainwash everybody to use different words where we have to look at what is the natural language in search. But I just mentioning that because that’s a challenge if you educate your customers about break fluid and why that’s needed or timing belt or things like that. So it’s much better to use the worlds you actually do when you are at the counter, don’t focus on the part, focus on what the labor you do an alignment.
That’s what you do. That’s what you’re in for. That’s your value brought to the market. And so I’m not saying on the parts in the SEO, but when and if you do try to surround the content you create with the value you bring to the table, how much time do we have? I want to show you one of the most striking examples which I came across, which goes back to tires and let me see whether I can share that. So let’s just say the following ts is the most competitive keyword, and it invites to become an e-commerce side to sell tires, right? Because that’s what the commercial need is. Google identifies. And so what we had in the past, okay, let me share my screen again. In the past, always recommended, just try to stay away from the e-commerce portion because it just turns your shop into a low margin e-commerce side competing with the tire racks and the Costcos and so on and so forth.
But there’s no chance of winning that battle, right? In the meanwhile, we say it a little bit differently, and I want to show you here a screenshot. I hope that you can see that on the right hand side, you see a typical tire widget you have available. This is called tire connect, and that is what you would have on your website. And then on the left hand side, what we will do is we are going to link it back to actually the value the shop brings to the table. So before you start buying tires, that’s just to shop, figure out what’s wrong and why your tires might look like this, especially if you have uneven wear. Then you can basically combine the two. You do the e-commerce, commerce, but you bring it back to the value the shop provides, which is let us figure out why your tires look like this, and then fix the root cause so you don’t have to buy the next set of tires in, I don’t know, two months or whatever. And then so this way, by using the digital inspections as the lead, you bring your value as a shop to the forefront, and then the tire selling it is just a necessary thing to provide the value. Does that make sense? A hundred percent. Yeah. That’s pretty awesome, actually.
And that’s true for anything. Going back to the question about SEO, lemme just switch back to my,
Tom Dorsey (00:56:30):
I mean, that’s pretty bold, right? That’s a bold move because I mean, that’s been since the beginning of time, I guess tires have been a loss leader, basically, right? Right. You’re either a full on tire shop, that’s all you do, and we ain’t doing an inspection. What for? We got a line of guys that want more tires or you’re trying to use that as a loss leader to get into the rest of the repair, but through the widgets. And I mean, most of that stuff is supplied by the tire distributors anyway, and they have no interest really in you being able to upsell. They just care about you putting the rubber on. Do we have that in practice? Are we testing that or do we have data on that yet? Not
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:57:18):
Yet. Good question. We don’t have it yet statistically relevant to actually make a case, but it’s a whole initiative we are going. It’s not just the web portion. It’s also integration with third party devices who allow a technician to measure, for example, a tread depth in a consistent way so you can actually make that a retention tool, right? So your tread depths last time was X, this time it’s Y. So where is going the following trend? We recommend to do this now or next time instead of relying on a tech being super precise last visit. I mean, we all know digital inspection is great, but if you have growing breaks over the time of visits because the technicians, it’s different technicians measuring different values, the equipment being integrated will solve that challenge. And so that’s a whole initiative we do. To go back to your question, integrating with third party equipment to get a precise tile measurement and put things like what I just showed you on the website to bring the value a sharp has for the motorist to the forefront and not run the risk of being perceived as a e-commerce or parts dealer.
Tom Dorsey (00:58:56):
Well, and I really like that idea because I mean, if you can project especially with authority, with accuracy, I know I’m going to need tires March 5th, right? Well, I could start paying for ’em right now, couldn’t I? And if I’m paying for ’em and I just go through this and now I’m there on March 5th, and then you tell me, well, this alignment and this tie rod end, Hey, you just paid off. You don’t want to wreck ’em. Now I’ve got a baked in upsell or a baked in captive kind of sale there because hey, I don’t want to spoil this thing that I just went through preparing for really interesting from a customer service experience and a data perspective to see this thing play out. Are we looking for pilot shops yet?
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:59:50):
Not yet, but soon. How
Tom Dorsey (00:59:51):
Do people help prove this?
Uwe Kleinschmidt (00:59:53):
Yes. So we have our turbo community and we have already quite a bit of requests. We’re happy to add you leave on if that’s something of interest for you. I know we are out of time. I just want to talk about the block very quickly. Blocks are great to get content across. There’s no doubt about it, especially your involvement in the local community. It is just the perfect way to get this on a page. From an SEO perspective, it’s tough in my opinion. Yes, there’s rich content, there’s rich content, but you need to have an SEO strategy for your site, and every single thing you add might water down your strategy instead of supporting it. You have to be crystal clear. What do you want to promote for locations, services makes? And so that turns a blog post into, so basically the person who is writing the blog post has to be absolutely aware of the SEO strategy, has to be absolutely aware how it’s implemented on the side and support that strategy and not write stuff which waters it down. And that’s really hard, really hard to do. So yeah, that is what I want. Would
Tom Dorsey (01:01:34):
You recommend Uwe that if you’re going to do that, you templatize it or something? So all your title tags, your H ones and all that. Because the other thing is too, is if you’re going to use that as a landing page for let’s say an ad or something, then you also have to be concerned about call to actions and some other critical page factors depending on how you plan on using that blog post as well.
Uwe Kleinschmidt (01:01:58):
Yeah, I personally think a blog post is great to talk about community and what’s going on in a shop, but not build the SEO strategy on the fact that there is a block. I would separate the two
Tom Dorsey (01:02:15):
More time. It’s incredible. We’re already over the hour. I got to have you back on Levon if you got, once your crew recovers and you got more time, buddy, I really appreciate you taking the time out too, especially under the circumstance on here for a whole hour with us like this. But man, I got to tell you, this is a great show, and I know that this helps a lot of folks that are in the same boat, not of course, with their whole staff missing, but I really want to have you back on so we can get a little bit deeper into some of those outlier strategies and how they’re actually paying off for you and working for you and where we’re going to go next. And then of course, an update on how those metrics played out and the response when your crew comes back in to the bar that you’ve set. Just really impressive, man. Levon, I can’t thank you enough, buddy.
Levon Arnold (01:03:12):
Yeah, I appreciate asking me to be on here. I’m always happy to talk about the things that we’re doing and help promote the digital revolution. It’s the way of the future, so any more that I can contribute, I’d be happy to.
Tom Dorsey (01:03:30):
No, that’s great. Yeah. Well, thank you very much buddy. Continued success, all that good stuff. Hopefully your folks come back stronger and healthy and hungry, and I know that man, with the way your leadership is rolling, there’s big, I’m excited to hear the next success story. So we’ll definitely be in touch and get a follow up on folks. If you didn’t get your questions in, go ahead and post ’em up on Facebook. I guess I have a secret episode for next Wednesday. I’ve got a guy who’s a trailblazer. This guy is going to put Lewis and Clark to shame. Neil Armstrong, who’s he? This guy is such a trailblazer, but I just don’t know if he’s going to be available, and so we’ll be doing plan B if he’s not, and I’m not going to find out until Friday. So just put it this way, you do not want to miss next Wednesday. Stay tuned. 10:00 AM Pacific, 1:00 PM Eastern. Until then, get out there and make some more money.

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